Opinion: ‘Shooting Illegal Immigrants Like Pigs’ No Laughing Matter, Part 1

  

As Shasta County’s Northern Hispanic Latino Coalition prepared a celebration to honor  César Chávez, the man associated with peaceful and successful campaigns against racism, bigotry and exploitation of human beings, several recent events of apparently dehumanizing character seemed to enshroud the festivities of our March 31 César Chávez state holiday.

Chávez - one of the most celebrated founders of the United Farm Workers labor movement (ufw.org) - must be spinning in his frugal pine box that lies under the very Delano dirt he toiled.

Last month a legislator from Kansas received severe, bipartisan criticism after suggesting that gunmen in helicopters shoot illegal immigrants like wild hogs.  That legislator is state Rep. Virgil Peck, the current Republican Majority Caucus Chairman. He made the unstable remark on March 14, during a formal House Appropriations Committee debate on successes to control wild pigs in Kansas.

"Looks like to me, if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem,"  he said.

GOP Representative Marc Rhoades immediately condemned the remarks during the discussion. "I know that the preface to your question was an attempt at humor, but I would ask that in the future you refrain from comments that could be deemed inappropriate," said Rhoades, the committee chairman.  According to multiple reports, Peck was stoic and unapologetic.

"I was just speaking like a southeast Kansas person," he rationalized.  Peck confidently added that he expected no further controversy over his remarks.  "I think it's over," he said.

That was ... until the small conservative grassroots organization, “Somos Republicans” (Spanish for, “We Republicans”), issued the following unparalleled threats in a national press release on March 16, 2011:

“Somos Republicans are demanding an apology from Republican Kansas legislator, Virgil Peck, when he said it might be good to control illegal immigration the way the feral hog population has been controlled ... There are people advocating to shoot the heads off of “illegal Mexicans,” and Peck’s behavior is extremely violent and inappropriate.”

“If Representative Virgil Peck does not apologize for his extremist comments, he will wind up permanently on our unfriendly-to-Hispanics list for the rest of his life, and his Kansas legend will be one of bigotry. We are horrified by his remarks and he is a disgrace to the party that was founded by Abraham Lincoln.”

The Republican state lawmaker apologized the following morning "I'm Virgil Peck, and on Monday, I made an inappropriate comment," the Republican state representative said in an on-camera statement. "For that, I'm sorry, and I apologize to anyone that I offended with my inappropriate comment. I'll be more careful with my words in the future."

Peck initially said he was only " joking" and then released a terse, two-sentence statement saying, "My statements (Monday) were regrettable. Please accept my apology."

• Last month, another Kansas legislator, Rep. Connie O’Brien, Republican-Tonganoxie, formally testified before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee about an experience she had with someone who was presumably an undocumented immigrant.

O'Brien said: "My son who’s a Kansas resident, born here, raised here, didn’t qualify for any financial aid. Yet this girl was going to get financial aid. My son was kinda upset about it because he works and pays for his own schooling and his books and everything and he didn’t think that was fair. We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was, we didn’t think that was proper. But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country."

Rep. Sean Gatewood, a Topeka Democrat, asked her, "Can you expand on how you could tell that they were illegal?"

O'Brien replied, "Well, she wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion."

• Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona, her small entourage and a nine-year-old little girl wanting to learn a civics lesson were gunned down and killed by an apparently deranged, and arguably, politically motivated shooter.

• A home invasion by an anti-immigrant, Tea Party activist and Minuteman Militia leader with ties to Redding, Shawna Forde, gunned down and killed an American father (of Mexican descent) and his pleading, nine-year-old daughter, and left the mother critically wounded.

• A 17-year-old pregnant farm worker, Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, died of heat stroke while laboring in the scorching grape vineyards near Stockton in 2009. Her body temperature reached 108 degrees after being kept from water and proper medical attention.  Although found guilty, the plea bargain gained probation and community service for the growers responsible.

Are we immersing our children in a mutating culture of hate, sociopathy and name-calling?  Is it now acceptable to use a “right-way” to do a wrong-thing?

We seem surrounded - again - by the very inhumane things that outraged Cesar Chavez, Dr. Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus. They all peacefully sacrificed their lives for a better world.  While César, Jesus, King, Honest Abe and Gandhi spin faster and faster, their collective, unified legacies are being hijacked.  

No one's laughing.

For more info about César Chávez and the Northern Hispanic Latino Coalition, call 530- 380-2199 or visit this site http://www.northernhispaniclatinocoalition.com/

Alan Ernesto Phillips is a proud son of Shasta County, a proud father of two daughters, and a local musician. He is a parenting educator, chemical-dependency counselor, victim-awareness counselor and developmental-asset builder and trainer. He also is a Clio and Telly award-winning filmmaker who produced and directed political campaigns for congressmen, senators, governors and one president (Ronald Reagan). His clients also included Coca-Cola, NIKE, CBS News and NOVA documentaries. He is a current board member and public affairs officer for the Northern California Hispanic Latino Coalition.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

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6 Responses »

  1. Hi,

    why am I not surprised that the dude from Kansas is a Republican. Really wish that 70 years of living in the U.S. did not result in my having this response. Of course, he apologized, and characterized his clearly racist comments as regretable.

    And, that other Congresswoman, OMG, another Republican from Kansas, Ms. Connie O'Brien. She should be, IMHO, encouraged to testify further and clarify the questions posed to her.

    I have been re-reading John Graves' works the last few weeks. Graves lives in Texas and writes that he and fellow ranchers and farmers have (he takes his statements into the hypothetical) employed "undocumented aliens" for as long as he has been a property owner. While some may find his position as "paternalistic" and his use of language not very P.C., he, I think, speaks for the majority of folks who live norte' of that "border". These views are certainly not reflected by these recent remarks from these Kansas legislators. I could do 20 minutes on Spanish surname athletes at Kansas chools, but I'll spare you folks that one.

    Poor Ce'sar must be turning over in his grave. I hope that O'bama gets this one right. That would certainly be one positive legacy. He is badly in need of some positive act that I expected from him when I voted for him.

    Peace and Love.

    • Great points, Paul.

      And in all fairness, my research in writing this piece showed high ranking Democrats who should have kept their histories clear and their mouths shut too!. Namely Byrd (ex Kleagle with the KKK), Reid and Biden. The distinction for me was those three gentlemen did not go on a the record of formal hearing to dehumanize others. But in hindsight, perhaps I should have exploited the P.C. and closeted aspect of bigotry and racism... well, another day, another windmill.

      I am familiar with Grave's work, and I think he is paternalistic in a very real sense too - he came back to the states just to care for his gravely ill father before he took on a River!

      As you suggest, Paul, sometimes clearer thinking individuals dare to put themselves in the way...

      This just in today:

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/06/us-crim...

      Thanks for reading and your insightful, enjoyable comment!

      Alan

  2. Thank you for the eye-opening article, Mr. Phillips. Having grown up in Missouri on the Kansas border, I am very sorry to say that this sort of ignorance and crazy talk is disturbingly unsurprising, though of course there are good people there, too, like everywhere else. But I do think that in a homogenous and insular population, you get more ignorance, and ignorant people egging each other on. I'm glad you used the word "sociopathy" because Rep Peck's remarks (all along the way) are classic sociopathy. Promoting violence, objectifying another human being, and then claiming it was a "joke" … classic. He will never be repentant, he will only pretend (clumsily) to be in order to get what he wants. I think it's important that we recognize sociopathy when we see it and call it what it is. Most people don't want to think that there are sociopaths among us, or holding public office (most people are capable of compassion and empathy and project those qualities onto others). But we ignore the red flags at our peril. Our society has been rewarding sociopaths for some time now. The consequences are now coming home to roost. We need to realize that some people truly see others as objects and that they are not likely to change. We need to protect ourselves and society from them instead of rewarding them, in the financial sector, in the public sector, in the business sector, in the entertainment sector (where sociopathic traits are often glossed over or even romanticized), and in our daily lives.

    Thank you for bringing these disturbing developments to our attention. It's important to know about these things so that we can resist them and take action against them.

    • Celeste, you are SO welcome!

      Thank you for reading, and for your deep, thoughtful comments, (and… for not killing the messenger)!

      Having been raised in a Latino family, next to family members, we were taught that we could always trust doctors, judges, priests, police and lawyers. Why? Because we were told those professionals were held to a higher standard than we mere mortals. Theirs’ was a higher calling to be trust-WORTHY…

      I am glad to infer that you get it! My piece wasn't about the poor little Latinos being oppressed again... it was about one perspective on the virulent, mutating culture in which we live. It was also about recognizing that many people in our changing culture have learned to justify and even actuary indulgence without empathy or conscience.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/06/us-crim...

      The good news... not everyone behaves that way. They probably had parents who - in spite of the research or the family law industries - dared to put themselves in the way for the healthy development of their children.

      I think you really hit it square on the kernel, Celeste, when you mentioned the consequences are coming home to roost! You might want to read about that very point in my future offerings... that is, if no one else kills this messenger first. Thanks again for reading!

      Best wishes to you and your dear ones,

      Alan

  3. CAN I GET AN "AMEN?!"

    THANK YOU!!!

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